I have got stuck with an illegal loft conversion?

by Readers Question

10:18 AM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

I have got stuck with an illegal loft conversion?

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I have got stuck with an illegal loft conversion?

I bought a property last July which was a converted 2nd floor flat with a third bedroom in the loft.planning

I wanted to make some updates to the property only to find that there was no planning permission given and certainly no building control involvement.

I did a basic survey on the purchase but my solicitors did not do the proper searches.

Where do I go from here.
Help!

Kevin



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:21 AM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi kevin,

Unfortunately solicitors can make mistakes as that is why they have professional indemnity cover. Were they aware of the loft conversion?

It is best to go back to your solicitors and if for any reason you are not happy you have recourse still to the Law Society.

Jerry Stone

12:22 PM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

There is a good chance that Planning permission was not required for internal changes. Planning tends to deal with external detailing.
If you go to the Planning Portal website and look for the link interactive house it is quite helpful and could help you work it out.
You can apply for building regulations retrospectively however local authorities may double the charge.
I would recommend looking for a private building control supplier and taking advice.
The usual difficult part of 3 stories is fire doors however a mist sprinkler system is a cheaper and easier to install system and can often overcome the issues of fire prevention and fire doors etc.
It may still be worth speaking to your Solicitor about the cost that you are likely to incur.
The vendor should have declared the lack of permissions.
The other thing to look at is how the estate agents advertised the property as they should have checked.
I hope this is of assistance.

sally lloyd

12:32 PM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Kevin.
I have a similar problem . I bought a 3 bed flat but when I went to morgage it this year found out on the plans it's a one bed and no landlord permission or building regs. My solicitor has suggested I get landlords permission first then when I go to sell there is an insurance against there being no building regs however she said not many mortgage companies will accept it. So I am getting people into to see what needs to be done for it to get through building control. Do not alert building regs as if they come round and say it's unacceptable they might make you revert it back. So if it's too expensive to do I'm just going to keep renting it then go to a cash sale when the time is it. It is totally my own fault as to save costs I didn't get all the searches done so don't have recourse to my solicitor.

Jerry Stone

12:37 PM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "sally lloyd" at "21/03/2016 - 12:32":

There are plenty of Private Building Control suppliers these days Sally who will give you advice.
It used to be very expensive to achieve building regulations because you needed Fire doors and alarms etc. however a mist sprinkler system is a very economic system for around 2500 pounds and well worth the cost for the increase in the value.
If you have made the changes for more than 4 years and you do need planning you can apply for a certificate of lawful use.

Sunny K

12:39 PM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

Hi Kevin,

Loft conversion is a permitted development ( and so planning permission not required) for houses but not flats. You could get advice from a local private planning consultant or the free planning advise service provided by you local council about your status. However be careful about approaching the council first. If you do required planning permission, you have two choices: either apply for retrospective planning ( if the structure is existing for at-least 4 years) or get an indemnity insurance which will protect you against cost of enforcement action by council. However this insurance is invalid if you approach the council and hence don't approach the free planning advice from your council first.
Building regs is required though and as suggested by Jerry Stone, get a private inspector if you can. They would ask for detailed plans and structural drawings by an Architect.
I think the cheapest and stress-free option would be to get indemnity insurance while you pursue your solicitor's indemnity.
I hope this help.

BW

Sunny

steve gilbert

12:39 PM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

In terms of the solicitor's liabilty, as Neil said it all depends on whether they were made aware. When you bought it look at the estate agent's particulars did it describe the loft as a room or storage space. The conversion definately does not need planning provided any change in roof shape only appears at back of property. What always does apply is building control but again this is if you wish to rent the property or market as the loft being a room, which I assume you do.
In this case you need to apply for retrospective building control, it is only a bit higher cost than normal. I fyou seek private advice it can be expensive and pretty pointless maybe get it just initially to see where you majorlly fall foul. The main areas of concern are meeting insulation requirements, fire requirements and structural stability. The whole idea of retrospective building control is when the loft conversion was done. The inspector is only to apply regulations as they were when work was completed. This can help enormously with insulation regs and fire. If the conversion was made some time ago there is no need for fire doors and insulation is minimal. On the hole I find building Control pretty reasonable ecspecially with retrospective and if the loft falls foul they are pretty open to bending certain regs depending on what is practical for you to do. However the strutural stability they will not move on.You will need to establish steel sizes and joists used by making small excavation holes. An engineer can often bend calcs to fit with what you have got, but it must be stable. So it all depends on whether there is some attempt to meet structural requirements. Hope this helps, I used to be a builder and must have done 100 loft conversions with all the structural calculations in London. If you are after any more specific advice directly related to your property please email me. Im not looking for work as I dont do private work. As long as you want me to advise by email I will do so just to help out a fellow lanlord. But before you do anything about the construction look at the solicitors liability

Tony Fitz

12:42 PM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

I was in a similar situation and had a problem when trying to remortgage. The surveyor's report stated that copies of approvals should be submitted.

My solicitor advised me to purchase an indemnity policy which they had sought and obtained costing around £200. This was accepted for the remortgage and was a lifetime policy being transferrable to any new owners.

I understand that the planning and building control authority cannot usually require you to remove or to seek retrospective approval of the conversion once a period of 12 months has passed since completion. This link may help: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/responsibilities/buildingregulations/failure

Obviously, you should satisfy yourself that the conversion is safe from hazards and structurally sound.

I hope that this helps.

sally lloyd

12:53 PM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jerry Stone" at "21/03/2016 - 12:37":

Thankyou, we are having to get fire doors etc as the building has now been classifies as an HMO so the freeholder is organising this. I am concerned about cost of sound proofing if I call them in. As we are a mid floor flat. The plumbing is atrocious they put it in the middle of flat with mascerating toilet so that's going to cost. Advise to anyone do not buy a property with a mascerating toilet plumbers won't touch them it costs £300 a pop to fix them and tenants always put what they shouldn't down them

steve gilbert

13:01 PM, 21st March 2016
About 3 years ago

A mascerated WC is only allowed in any residential property if there is another WC in the proeprty connected direct to the stack.If you are having problems with it put a decent one in , about £700 plus fitting, all the cheap ones forever clog

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